Archive for November, 2011

YPU How To: Pick a Yellow Pages

November 4, 2011

Everywhere you look there seems to be a banner ad, TV spot, or a mail piece describing the wonderful ways in which a product can help your business. The possibilities seem endless, and most business owners get overwhelmed with the amount of options available for marketing their services.

But before you make any decisions, you should take it upon yourself to find out as much information as possible about the product or service being offered, and this series will hopefully aid in this arduous, yet critical process.

This week’s topic is something that we know a little something about: Yellow Pages advertising.

Yellow Pages – Know Your Types
Originally, there was only one “Yellow Pages”, the local printed phone book that was delivered to every home. Nowadays, the advertising environment has changed, and as there are about as many varieties of Yellow Pages directories as there are ice-cream flavors.

  • Printed Yellow Pages Directories (Local and National): This is the type of Yellow Pages advertising that started it all. Today, there are many Yellow Pages that are distributed by various, non-affiliated companies depending on what part of the country you are in. The most common variety of printed Yellow Pages is distributed locally, usually by your telephone provider but also by independent companies. There are also quite a few companies that offer printed directories that are distributed on a national level, most of which are niche directories or B2B types of directories. If your business is on a more national level, this is definitely an advertising option to consider, although most companies are doing away with antiquated print directories and moving forward with online versions of their services
  • Online Yellow Pages Directories: This is where the bulk of the Yellow Pages variety lives. There are many different companies that offer an online, easily searchable directory service and many business owners across the country use online directories as part of their marketing plan. With more and more printed Yellow Pages directories being used as booster seats and table levelers, it is clear that consumers are taking their search for goods online (2/3 of consumers according to eConsultancy 2010), forcing business owners, and Yellow Pages providers, to follow suit.
  • Printed and Online Yellow Pages: Many of the larger Yellow Pages distributors are afraid of abandoning their printed directory altogether, even though it is rapidly becoming obsolete in a technology-driven world. The result is a handful of distributors that offer a printed directory, as well as an online version of that directory. Don’t be surprised though if printed directories are phased out completely within the next few years in lieu of their online counterparts.
It’s NOT All In the Name
As mentioned before, the term “Yellow Pages” is used by many directory publishers across the entire planet as a part of their moniker. As a business owner, this is something to make note of when researching which type of Yellow Pages advertising you would like to participate in. Never assume that because a publisher’s name has the words “Yellow Pages” in its title, it’s a local publication. As noted above, it could very well be a local, national, or online-only directory.

Many companies also use the “walking fingers” symbol as it has become the official symbol of the Yellow Pages industry. Needless to say, this symbol is not a very good way to distinguish between the many different publishers in the marketplace. This symbol is not trademarked and can be used by any company, regardless of what type of service they offer.

The best way to distinguish between these companies is to look closely at their names. Each Yellow Pages publisher will have a different name, and no two Yellow Pages companies are affiliated. Following this one simple suggestion is an easy way to eliminate any possible confusion when it comes to choosing Yellow Pages advertising.

Research The Business
Once you have selected a few possible Yellow Pages candidates, it’s time to put on your monocle and engage in some healthy research. First, start with your potential Yellow Pages publishers website. Do they have an About Us page? Is there a customer service number listed? How many current subscribers do they have? What are the listing fees and contract terms of service?

These are all valid questions that should be answered prior to joining with any Yellow Pages provider.

Trustworthy companies are transparent about their business practices and easily accessible, so if you stumble upon a provider’s site that does not answer some of the questions listed above, you may want to think twice about advertising with them.

Seek Valid Sources of Information
In the research process, you will undoubtedly run across postings on blogs and other unknown websites which list complaints from customers of various Yellow Pages providers. Proceed with caution as you read these entries. More often than not, the postings are filled with inaccuracies and misinformation, most of the time involving multiple companies grouped together as one under the single describer of “the Yellow Pages” or worse, the ill actions of one publisher being blamed on another. Since there are no “fact police” on the Internet, these postings can continue to thrive and business owners may become tempted to accept someone else’s opinion as truth.

A better, unbiased resource for information on publishers is the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org). Here, you will find empirical data on number of complaints, if and how they were resolved, and whether or not the Yellow Pages provider is accredited with the BBB. Using the BBB as a research tool is much more valid than reading comments or postings about companies that may or may not be accurate.

Determine the Value of Advertising
After completing your research, you should have a pretty good idea of the type of Yellow Pages service that is being offered. This is where you, as a business owner, must decide whether or not the service is right for your business. Are you a local business? If so, then you probably don’t want a printed directory that is distributed nationally, but you could definitely benefit from an online version of a Yellow Pages.

Some companies are even beginning to offer customizable websites included with your Yellow Pages listing. This is a giant step beyond the basic searchable, online directory of the past. Before, customers would have to go to the actual publishers website to search for a business in their database, but now they can search right from Google and discover the business via its Yellow Pages-provided website. This is a great feature that many business owners are taking advantage of, so make sure that this service is provided if it seems beneficial to you.

Be Thorough and Check Back With Us
Overall, you owe it to yourself to research the products and services that could benefit your business before making a purchasing decision. Hopefully this guide will help. Just remember to always seek multiple sources of information and never accept someone else’s opinion as a fact.